Here’s what you need to know to make the Yoast readability tool work for you! You can find out about Yoast’s SEO tools in last week’s post.
Have a Free English Tutor at Your Fingertips
I know, it sounds weird. But Yoast SEO actually acts as a free English tutor. In fact, I’ve considered assigning ‘author’ status to all of my students on my blog so that Yoast can pre-grade their papers for me.
Let me explain. Writing for a blog is different than writing a letter or a book report. Blog readers tend to scan text, and their eyes seek out information that helps them understand quickly. Blog readers don’t want to read books when they come to your blog post.
The way you write can help blog readers quickly read and understand what you’re trying to say. Yoast has set up some readability criteria to help you become a better writer. Your goal today is simple–get a green light in the Yoast readability tab (you’ll feel like the teacher returned a paper to you with a shiny A plastered across the top).
Understanding the Yoast Readability Rubric
Yoast gave this post a “C” (that’s what I call the orange dot) for two reasons. I tend to write long, complex sentences. Yoast doesn’t appreciate this. It tells me that “35.7% of my sentences contain more than 20 words.”
If I click on the little eye icon and then scroll up to my post, Yoast will point out which sentences need trimming. Remember, I don’t have to trim them all—one or two should get me down to the magical maximum of 25%.
Why Write Shorter Sentences?
I don’t want to stifle my writing style, but I do need to take into consideration that my long sentences might distract some people. I read through the sentences that Yoast has highlighted and chose one to modify. I took out the words ‘both of’ in the third highlighted sentence and checked to see what grade Yoast gave me.
By chopping two little words, I brought my Yoast readability score up to a green light! Easy.
I confess that Yoast’s need to have transition words in 30% of the sentences while only having 25% of the sentences longer than 20 words does make me chuckle. They’ve created a Catch 22 situation for bloggers.
Other Ways Yoast Helps Your Readability
- It pays to keep the reading level easy. Try to maintain the fine line between using all the big words that you know and writing the next Dick and Jane book (I stopped reading for three years when I got to school and the teacher tried to ‘teach’ me to read with Dick and Jane books).
- I compose in Microsoft Word, which has a word count tool. When I think I’m approaching 300 words I’ll do a quick word count on that section and come up with a nice subheading. You get bonus points if you can slip your keyword into your subheading in a natural way.
- Blog readers like short paragraphs. So do English teachers.
- Passive voice. I’ll tackle this one next week, because it’s a biggie.